No matter what your industry, you've been told many times how effective a marketing tool blogging can be. Unfortunately, knowing that you need to blog and knowing how to do it are two very different things.
Table of Contents
- Looking for tips on how to start a blog? Look no further.
- Step 1: Get Clear On Your Blog's Purpose
- Step 2: Pick A Platform & Domain
- Step 3: Choosing The Right Blog Host
- Step 4: Set Up WordPress
- Step 5: Decide on the “Look” You Want With a WordPress Theme
- Step 6: Start Writing Your First Post
- Step 7: Get Help Tweaking Your WordPress Blog
- Step 8: Keep Publishing No Matter What
- How to Start a Blog … Your Way
Looking for tips on how to start a blog? Look no further.
Step 1: Get Clear On Your Blog's Purpose
Before diving into the technical side of how to start a blog, you need to get clear on why you're starting it in the first place.
Is it going to be a business blog? A personal method of sharing your story? A place to connect with like-minded individuals across the web?
Take time to reflect and create a mission statement for your endeavor. As your work progresses, it'll give you a framework to keep everything focused and streamlined, which will definitely help you to attract the type of audience you need to make your blog a success.
A word of caution: If you are planning on earning an income from your blog, know that it can take months – years, even – to gain enough steady traffic to make even running ads worth your while.
There are plenty of cases of people who started blogs, that turned into ad-revenue based businesses, who burned out and decided it wasn't worth it.
If you're serious about building an online business, then you're definitely in the right place and I've got more training about building a business online here.
Step 2: Pick A Platform & Domain
Okay, so you're clear on the purpose of your blog!
Yes, you could go with a free Blogger or the WordPress.com blog (that's different from a self-hosted WordPress.org site) where you don't need a domain, but if there's one thing I hear over and over again… it's that people who started blogs on free sites wished they had a domain so they could preserve the search engine rankings they built on their free site when they finally did move to a domain.
While there are plenty of free blogging platforms out there, you're limited by their rules and if they happen to change things, you could lose out.
WordPress is absolutely the right software for running a professional level blog… you just need to host it on your own paid server.
If you use the free option to host on the WordPress.com site, for example, you wot be able to use affiliate links or include ads on your blog. Without your own hosting, you will also be blocked from installing many of the WordPress plugins and additional features that might really take your blog to the next level.
Once you've picked the platform you'll use, there are two more considerations:
Naming Your Blog – This is the fun part! Choose a name for your blog that reflects your mission statement and the content you'll be putting out there. Take the time to read through this article on naming your blog or business for inspiration.
Choosing a Domain Name – After you've picked the perfect name for your blog, you can select a domain name. The first place to start is by deciding if you want a dot-com.
Step 3: Choosing The Right Blog Host
Web hosting platforms range from $7 per month up to $25 for one site and will allow you to completely customize your blog to your needs. This also means that you don't run the risk of your content disappearing because of changes to the platform or a shift related to the needs of the company that hosts your blog, rather than your own personal needs.
We've personally tried several hosts over the years, and we always come back to the same two options.
WPEngine: If you plan to really make this a business and you get a lot of website traffic, then I recommend and personally use WP Engine. It’s a great WordPress specific host, where a lot of the technical stuff is managed for you. No need to be a tech wizard, and they have incredible support staff, too! Hosting on WPEngine is also more stable for traffic spikes, and reduces the chances of getting hacked because it's all managed on WordPress by their experts.
BlueHost: I highly recommend Bluehost for people who are just getting started online with their first website or blog. You can have a WordPress website up and running within 5 minutes of checkout, and you get a free domain name with registration. This is a more affordable option but you will need to follow instructions for setting WordPress up the first time you set it up.
Step 4: Set Up WordPress
While you don't want to use WordPress's free hosting accounts, WordPress is the most popular blogging platform. Here's a detailed tutorial that will tell you exactly how to install WordPress.
If you're using WPEngine, this part will already be done for you when you login to your new hosting account!
Step 5: Decide on the “Look” You Want With a WordPress Theme
Your blog's appearance is one of its most important attributes.
Sure, you want people focused on your content, not on what color the banner at the top of the screen happens to be; but the truth is, many internet users browse through content quickly, making lightning-fast decisions about whether or not they're going to keep reading based on the look and feel of the blog space.
Think of it this way: if you were walking into a job interview, how would you attend to your appearance?
You'd dress professionally, pay attention to your hair and makeup, and make sure that your clothing was clean and unwrinkled.
Your blog is “walking into an interview” with a potential reader every time someone clicks on a link for the first time. If they don't like the way it looks, they may never even get as far as your first line.
The look you want for your blog will depend on the type of content you're planning to offer.
That's where choosing from many of the free WordPress themes comes in handy. They give you a design framework that you can alter to more closely suit your needs.
If you are at all techy, you can learn how to customize some professional themes like Headway, which is what we use here at AccessAlly.
For a more hands-off approach, you could also hire a professional web designer to create a custom design for your site.
What Do You Want It To Look Like?
If you're in graphic design, you'll want to customize every aspect of your blog to give it a clean, professional appearance that will be attractive to the type of clients you most want to acquire.
On the other hand, if you're a food blogger, you'll want to create a homey feel that will make your readers feel as though they're stepping into the kitchen with you so they can learn all of your tips, tricks, and secrets.
Take the time to think this through and do it right. You might be itching to dive in and start writing content, but taking the time up front to customize the look of your blog will pay off immensely in the long run.
Also keep in mind that you'll occasionally need to change the “face” of your blog to reflect changes in tone, capability, or the way your industry is viewed. If you realize that your blog has changed direction, it's perfectly acceptable to make changes to the appearance, as well.
Although many professional brands occasionally revamp their marketing campaign completely, you don't want to do this too often. A familiar appearance creates a sense of recognition with your personal brand, and disrupting that can lead to a disruption of your customer base.
Step 6: Start Writing Your First Post
The topic you choose for your introductory post will help to set the stage for the blog posts you'll write over the coming weeks and months.
Many bloggers choose to make their first post an “introductory” post that tells something about themselves and details their plans for the blog. Others jump straight in, assuming that the introductory post won't mean anything in a few months' time.
If you jump in and declare yourself an expert in your industry, you'll need to provide posts that prove your status, keeping up with the latest news and responding to any new innovations or developments within your field.
On the other hand, if you're blogging more as a way to track your accomplishments and share your projects with an audience of potential customers, you'll need to regularly share and display new examples of your work.
The tone you set with those early posts will grow, change, and develop along with your personal style and your industry, so don't feel too intimidated. Jump in and start creating!
Step 7: Get Help Tweaking Your WordPress Blog
Once you get started blogging and setting up your blog's theme, installing WordPress plugins and getting to know the platform… you'll likely run into some things you'd like you change but aren't sure how.
These are both platforms where you can hire WordPress savvy technicians or developers for small jobs and tweaks. You don't need to hire them to design your entire WordPress site from scratch… instead, they can install or configure plugins for you, move something a few pixels over so it lines up, or otherwise troubleshoot any issues you come into contact with.
WPCurve is a simple monthly subscription service, where you get 24/7 support for unlimited small jobs on your WordPress website. That way you can spend your time actually writing or networking with other bloggers and business owners instead of fiddling with code.
With Codeable you post specific jobs that you'd like done on your WordPress website, ranging from small tweaks up to bigger projects… and you'll have trained developers get back in touch quickly.
I don't recommend going at it alone on WordPress if you aren't extremely comfortable with technology. These services help!
Step 8: Keep Publishing No Matter What
When you first start writing, you're filled with ideas for your new blog.
That first day, you could put up half a dozen posts without even breaking a sweat, if you just had the time to sit down and work on it.
As time goes on, however, it becomes more difficult to come up with ideas. Blogging becomes a chore instead of something you love.
But that doesn't mean you should give up.
Instead, shift your focus and make blogging one of the most enjoyable parts of your day.
Utilize these ideas for those moments when inspiration just won't come:
- Go back to your first love. What is it that you love about your blogging topic? Is it a job that you've kept for years and always enjoyed? A hobby that you're hoping to build into a full-time job? What aspect of it interests you the most? Those blog posts that are filled with passion and enjoyment are often the ones that stand out the most, so don't be afraid to let your first love shine.
- Look into the news. What's happening in your industry? Do you have something to say about it? Try taking the opposite stance from the majority, even if it's ironically. Opposition often drives traffic and increases your blog views.
- Consider your projects. What have you been working on lately? What's important to you about that project? Consider pulling out a personal project, rather than a normal work-related one. Offer something to spice it up!
- Run a contest. Contests often drive new traffic as nothing else can. If it's appropriate for your topic, host a contest. The best type? The ones that drive comments and interaction with your blog, which is sure to keep people coming back for more. Consider asking a question, requesting photographs that are posted to your blog, or using post comments as a requirement for some of your entries.
How to Start a Blog … Your Way
Learning how to start a blog is a wonderful platform for sharing your work and your passion with others.
Creating it from the ground up and building a readership can be a challenge, but it's a challenge that's well worth the time and effort you put in.
Get started writing, and before you know it, blogging will be a regular part of your daily work — quite possibly one of the most fun parts of your day!